At the intersection of quality and convenience

These past couple weeks have been insane.After a 12-hour day of running all around campus for classes and all around town for work, sometimes I just don’t have energy to stand at the stove and feed myself. At the same time, I don’t want to expend the time and energy necessary for stopping at a restaurant and picking something up.

Fortunately, modern technology is constantly finding new ways for us to get food real quick in the kitchen. Here’s my breakdown of culinary timesavers:

1. Frozen dinners- America is an incredible place because nearly anything you could ever want to eat comes in frozen-box form. The quality of different products, however, really runs the gamut. There are literally dozens of doors of options (pardon the freezer-aisle pun). Some of them are awesome, like my personal favorite, the Amy’s section:

These meals are all around $4, they taste delicious, and they don’t make you feel disgusting. I attribute this partially to the fact that they have no meat, because let’s face it, you’d be hard pressed to find frozen entrée meat that doesn’t have a texture similar to the bottom of your shoe.

Some of them, however, are a little frightening. Would steer clear of seafood options entirely, if I were you.

2. Pre-chopped vegetables- Absolutely not. Yes, it’s true, I’m a bit of an anomaly in that I find chopping to be therapeutic but be real here, you’re paying considerably more for something that will only take you a couple minutes to execute yourself, and you’ll probably end up doing a better job anyway (okay that may be a stretch depending on your knife skills.) But seriously, buy your produce whole and chop it yourself. It’s cheaper and it’ll last longer plus if you’re like me you’ll feel a bit like Bobby Flay.

3. Pre-chopped garlic- Okay so I’ve suffered from post-pasta-night-garlic-fingers just as much if not more than the next guy. But are you tryin’ to  tell me that this looks acceptable???? NO.

4. Frozen Pizza- As fun as make-your-own-pizza night is, I’m a firm believer in frozen pizza. I’ve never found a frozen pizza that I didn’t devour entirely too quickly.

5. Quick rice- Rice is a staple in my diet, mostly because it seemingly lasts forever and you can put anything on top of it. Making rice from its raw form, however, takes a pretty damn long time and consistently boils over making a mess that I don’t feel like dealing with. These barriers are probably why your local grocery store has pretty extensive shelves of quick-rice options.

a. Pouch- this is probably my favorite kind because it literally takes a minute to prepare. The downside: they’re often pretty chalk full of salt and other not-super-great additives. While my pantry is always stocked with this stuff, I try to avoid it if I have time to spare.

b. Minute rice- This is a bit of a misnomer because unlike the aforementioned pouch-rice, this stuff does not actually take one minute. While it doesn’t have the same sodium problem, the texture can be a little off-putting if you don’t cook it correctly.

c. Box rice- This stuff cuts down on the time and adds some funky flavor, but combines the sodium problem with the not-so-speedy problem.

The problem that plagues all of these options is that they cost a lot more than plain old rice. My suggestion? Take an hour every weekend to make a big ol’ pot of regular rice and dress it up quickly every night.

6. Instant mashed potatoes- Usually located in the same aisle as the rice is this ABOMINATION. ‘Nuff said.

7. Premade grocery store sandwiches- My relationship with these sandwiches is akin to the classic definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. To be fair, my “over and over again” is like, three times, but you’d think that my first experience with a volcano of slimy mayo would have been enough. These things are just not good. Why have I fallen into this trap thrice? Shopping while hungry like a rookie. DON’T BUY THESE.

Life is busy. These past few weeks have been downright crazy for you as much as me, I’m sure. But don’t fall victim to 5-minute microwaved seafood cream sauce and chop your own darn garlic.


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